Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘coming up for air’ edition

  • The month of January has literally flown by for me. Usually I hate January because it seems to drag on forever. This January has been one of the best in recent memory. The first week sucked but a lot of that was my annoyance that the Christmas break was over and I really had to go back to work. Once I got passed that it was all ok.
  • As I have mentioned, I hired a research company to find my biological parents. At the beginning of the third week of January, she had located my biological father. I had almost forgot this was going on until I got an email from her with the information. We subsequently met a couple of days later. It was interesting because when I thought about my biological family, I really focused on my mother. I never thought about him. I was quite conflicted about the meeting with him. Although it went well in the sense that he did not reject me, I found the evening frustrating, as I could not get any real information. I will definitely see him again as I really would like to get to know him a bit. I also feel like he took advantage of my biological mother in that he was almost 10 years older than her. When I pointed that out she said she didn’t realize that he was that much older. Plus I get the sense that he drinks a lot[1] and it has really affected his mind. I really want to meet my half-brothers as I feel they may be able to give me more insight.
  • This week I was able to make contact with my biological mother! We talked on Tuesday and met on Wednesday. I was so stressed out when I was meeting my biological father; I was quite relaxed meeting my mother. We are quite alike in a number of ways. I really went from feeling like an alien[2] to seeing myself reflected in someone else. She clearly suffered for being forced to give me up for adoption.[3] I, of course, want to jump in spend as much time with her as possible but she is not there yet. So I am backing off and giving her time.[4] She said she has a lot of things coming up in the next couple of weeks that will make her too busy to spend time together. I think she also needs some serious time to process this reunion. She has never told anyone that she had a baby she gave up for adoption. She has told me she will tell people in her life. I am confident that we will have a great relationship once she has some time.
  • Deb, Angelina and the dogs are my rock. I have a safe place to come home to where I am loved and accepted no matter what. This is something my biological mother never had. I really want her to come here and share what we have.
  • I have been feeling so much better since I began to incorporate music into every day. Music really is the thing that keeps me sane, balanced and in harmony with the world. Lately I have been enjoying David Francey,  Richard Shindell, the Decemberists, Paul Simon, and Cara Luft. I am hoping to go to a house concert Cara is putting on in Maple Ridge.
  • Talking about dogs – Zoe is so happy in the morning. She runs like a puppy and if she can find a toy she is over-joyed. She goes out to pee, comes in for her treat[5]. I got some great pictures of her with my new iPhone 4S:
Zoe - looking like a puppy!
Zoe waiting not so patiently for my breakfast!

[1] He might have given it away by the 2 vodkas on the rocks he drank while we were at the freaking White Spot!

[2] I have several idiosyncrasies like not being able to stand the feeling of dirt on my hands and so does she!

[3] Her mother forced her to give me up as they would not have supported her in keeping me in anyway.

[4] Anyone who knows me will realize how difficult this is. I am not known for patience and waiting when it comes to something I want. I think this may be maturity showing.

[5] The only reason she will go outside and get her feet wet is for that little chunk of pupperoni!

Review MacBook Air

What is it?

The MacBook Air is Apple’s answer to the netbook. However, where most netbooks failed, the MacBook Air soars. The Air is an ultrathin laptop that is built for portability and function. It sports a full-size MacBook keyboard, including the backlighting as the MacBook Pro. I bought the 13-inch with 256 GB of flash memory.

How does it work?

The MacBook Air works just like other laptops with one major difference. To create a laptop that gives the user a great experience while focusing on portability something had to be sacrificed. In this case, Apple chose to nix the hard drive. Instead, the Air relies on flash memory. At 256 GBs, the Air’s storage is quite small.[1] However, it is not meant for hoarding loads of data. If you need to access or keep lots of data then you can connect a portable hard drive to the thunderbolt port.

Apple has steadily improved the MacBook Air since its inception in 2008. With this new line they appear to have hit upon a winning formula. The Air is light and streamlined and its zippy performance rivals the competition.

Why should I care?

If you attend meetings, make presentations, or need to work in different places you will love the MacBook Air. I was at a meeting last night and 3 of us had new MacBook Airs. We had one projector and sharing it was so easy with the MacBook Airs.

If you hate having your arm pulled down by a heavy laptop or dragging a wheeled bag around. If you ever hesitated to take your laptop because it is too clunky then the Air is the answer for you.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

The Air is more expensive than other netbooks. However it is comparable to other full-sized laptops. The entry level is $1199 in Canada. It comes with all of the typical Mac software like iPhoto, Garage Band and iMovie. Plus, of course, you get the superior performance of a Mac.

So how do I get it?

You can order it from the online Apple store or go to your closest Apple reseller!

[1] The low end of the line sports 64 GB of flash memory.

Getting out of bed

Getting out of bed is something most people take for granted. Not me though. When I wake up in a stupor and need to get up, I have to be very careful because there is nowhere to put my feet! How could this be you might wonder? It is because I have a150-pound dog who likes to lay right beside the bed. He is long and he is wide. So trying to find a place to put my foot is a serious challenge.


Mr. Long


Mr. Wide



What a week!

I made a decision in December to become a more active agent of change in my life. I wanted to stop being passive and reacting to things happening to me. Instead, I wanted to have a say in how things in my life happen. This decision has many implications some for my life. I really want to get some control over my health. Being adopted, I know nothing really about my medical history.[1] I had all my information from the Alberta adoption records.[2] I had done some research and thought I found my biological mother but I wasn’t really sure. Then I received a little more information and something didn’t sit well with me so I stopped just short of emailing her. I then decided to spend the money and hire a researcher.

On Monday, I received an email from the researcher that she had located my biological father. I was stunned. I had always anticipated finding my birth mother first and never really gave my biological father any thought. He lived in Richmond with his wife and he had 2 sons. I immediately looked the sons up on Facebook and found them. I then phoned my biological father. At first, he said it was not possible that he was my father but as I gave him more information he then remembered my birth mother.

We met him and his wife at White Spot in Richmond a couple of days later. It was so surreal. I bear a striking resemblance to him and one of my brothers. Unfortunately, it was very hard to hear him so I did not learn much about him. However, we will see each other again. He was not at all what I anticipated so I am taking some time to process this information. They are going to tell their sons. I am looking forward to meeting them at some point.

I did learn that my biological father had Graves disease at around the same time as I did. We both had to have surgery to correct our eyes from its ravages. We both also have a lazy eye. His sons have not had any thyroid issues to date.

As an adopted child you dream about who your biological parents will be based on who you are. It is quite a reality check when you meet one of them and realize that they are, in fact, nothing like you – or so it seems. I am hoping that as I get to know my biological father and his sons a bit that I will see glimpses of myself there beyond the obvious physical resemblance.

[1] Ok, I knew a couple of things: my father had a hyperthyroid and my mother was born with a hole in her heart. Obesity ran on both sides of the family.

[2] I received it in 2005.

 I found a new blog. It is called Vets Behaving Badly. I have gotten into a disagreement with them about raw-feeding. I posted this very long comment (actually broken into 3 parts) on this thread.


I find it interesting that because so many of you disagree with me you cast me as a lunatic. But whatever.

So, Don!, I think the diet you are feeding your dog is awesome. I am not completely against kibble. In fact, here at the Swamp, the dogs get high quality kibble and canned about once a month. We call it McDonald’s for dogs. Our dogs also eat a variety of other stuff in addition to RMBs.

One of the vets said that it is not possible to teach everything in vet school and that what education does is teach one how to think and how to solve a problem. Well that can be true of many other degrees and disciplines. I have a Master of Arts degree and I have also been taught how to think and research. Sadly for all of you, you do not have the market cornered on critical thinking. Now, let’s debunk some of the stuff you are saying about feeding raw.

First off one of you has pointed out that dogs are not true carnivores. You said they are opportunist scavengers and not hunters (although I am sure anyone who has ever lived with a terrier would argue that dogs are indeed hunters). So if dogs are scavengers it stands to reason that they would eat carrion and other such stuff. Carrion would be full of all sorts of bacteria and other stuff, yet the dogs can eat it and they have no problem. So if they can eat half rotten meat and other stuff why can’t they eat human grade raw meaty bones that come from the grocery store? I really would like an answer to this question. If you trot out the ‘Oh no the salmonellas will kill them’ argument you will lose. Please give me a reasoned answer.

Dogs are not meant to eat corn. In fact, if you do some research you will see that the same thing that happened to human food (over-processing, full of corn) is killing us. It is also killing our pets. Dogs are not meant to eat a diet where the first ingredient is corn! Then there is the ever ubiquitous ‘_____ meal’. This stuff is rendered parts of animals that humans don’t consume and turned into a meal for dogs to eat. Why would you want to feed your dog rendered ground up chicken feathers and other such crap?  It is not bio-available to them for digestion. Then there is the ‘lets cook it at extremely high temperatures and extrude it out of machine’ process. Sounds nummy doesn’t it! Another huge issue with kibble is that dogs must reconstitute it in their guts so they can digest it. According to another vet this keeps them in a constant state of slight dehydration for their entire lives.

Now, lest you feel like you can just dismiss me as a crackpot why don’t you listen to some of your colleagues? Here are 2 links to other vets who disagree with you:

Dr. Karen Becker on why grain-free diets are not optimal for pets: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/11/08/new-trends-in-pet-food.aspx

Dr. Peter Dobias answering some of the common objections (remember the ‘oh no the salmonellas!’ argument.


In fact, Dr. Dobias has never seen a case of salmonella in a raw fed dog. How do you explain that? He feeds his animals raw.

I was against feeding raw for a very long time. I only came to it reluctantly because we had a 3-year old shihtzu who developed a bladder stone. When it was removed it looked exactly like a piece of Iams kibble which she had been eating her whole life. As we did research about how to prevent further bladder stones we discovered that she needed to eat a lower pH diet. Our vet could not recommend anything at the time that would meet this criteria (it was before grain-free kibbles and foods). The solution was raw. She never had another stone.

Now onto the vaccine issue as some of you think that raw feeders are also against vaccines. We vaccinate our dogs. We do not do it every year as protocols are slowly changing at least in Canada. After age 5 the only vaccine they get every three years is rabies. Again, critical thinking has been instrumental in our decision about vaccines. We believe puppies must be vaccinated but we don’t buy that dogs need them every year. We don’t need vaccines every year of our life so why would dogs? The only exceptions to this are the flu shot and perhaps bordetella for dogs.

One more thing about raw-fed dogs is that they are healthier. We have not had to treat for fleas in so many years I have lost count. Yet we live in a high flea area. Our dogs do not get parasites anymore. When we fed kibble we had to treat for worms yearly. Don’t even get me started about the hookworm infection of 2001! We had 6 dogs with bloody diarrhea. Since feeding raw the dogs have never had worms again. Parasites are just not able to overwhelm healthy raw-fed dogs in the same way they do with kibble-fed dogs.

Someone also questioned how much dog experience I have. My partner and I have been involved in rescue for 15+ years. We have fostered, adopted and reared over 25 dogs in that time. We have seen dogs given 2 months to live because of cancer come here and live for 2 years. I know this is anecdotal but I think it bears discussing. Cancers feed on carbs (it is the same thing in humans). If you deprive those cells of sugar they don’t grow as fast. We have never had a dog with pancreatitis or a bone obstruction. Dogs are meant to crunch up raw bones! (the exception, of course, being large ungulates).

I am not a crack pot because I feed raw. It was a well thought out decision. Once we saw the results we could never go back. I personally know at least 30 other raw feeders and no one has ever had a case of salmonella or bone obstruction or e. coli. All of these people are feeding anywhere between 2-11 dogs. We and other vets cannot all be wrong.

Completely out of touch

So apparently one of the candidates for the presidency of the Liberal Party of Canada says that they need to bring in new ideas. In particular, Mike Crawley thinks we should debate the role of the Monarchy in Canada. Is this the best they’ve got? Because, if so, we are completely and utterly in trouble. If the Liberals cannot rebuild their party we will be stuck with some brand of a Stephen Harper government for the foreseeable future.

I have a few suggestions for the LPC if they can’t think of new ideas:

  • Re-assess the relationship between the government and the governed. Our first-past-the-post system is broken. We need a much more representative government with some mechanisms to make our voices heard in between elections.
  • They must engage youth. If the LPC were smart they would tap into the energy of the Occupy Movement in Canada. They need to harness and organize the movement’s ideas and use some of their methods. If the Occupiers feel valued and listened to by the LPC they will gain a whole new constituency.
  • The must look at the relationship between corporations and consumers and corporations and their employees. There needs to be some serious discussion about consumer rights and corporations being held accountable. Similarly, corporations must be regulated when it comes to how they treat their employees. The situation at the Caterpillar plant should be high on the government’s agenda.
  • As a country we must pledge to stop filling the DTES with new souls. Every child must be given a minimum standard of living and access to opportunity. We must eradicate poverty and invest heavily in child development programs. Finally, we must value stay-at-home parents. It has been proven time and time again that children who are stimulated intellectually by a parent at home have much better outcomes.

As for the Monarchy, who really cares? Besides the odd Royal Visit and the need for extra security it really does not cost as that much. In fact, given the last couple of Royal visits, it would seem that the Monarchy is more popular than ever.

Why we need a new social contract

Over the past three decades we have seen the decimation of the social contract between us, the governed, and our collective governments. As pursuing profit at all costs has become the new religion, our governments have breached their responsibility to us. Continued privatization and deregulation has opened up more ways for corporations to rob us at every turn. Whether it is as a consumer or an employee, the social contract is gone.

Take the latest example of corporate greed. Caterpillar, a company that makes billions in profits, has locked out its employees in London, Ontario. Caterpillar wants to reduce wages by over 50%, add co-pays to benefits and force employees to pay 25% of the cost. It has been common for manufacturers to ask employees to take a pay cut but 50% is unheard of. It is not like this company is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Apparently, Caterpillar has a reputation of extracting concessions from its workers by waiting out their unionized employees until they are desperate.

Where is the intervention of the federal government? How come at the whiff of a labour dispute at Air Canada had Lisa Raitt running to the Industrial Relations Board? Where is she on this one? This is union-busting at its finest and clearly the Harper government couldn’t care less. Why is it ok to force a 50% compensation reduction on a group of legally unionized workers? Surely if a company does not have monetary pressures to demand these concessions, it ought to be illegal.

If the government(s) can’t protect us what are we to do? Clearly there is something seriously wrong with our system. It is time that people wake up and withdraw their consent to be governed. Once again, the Occupiers have it right.

Dispatches from the Swamp – The ‘is it Easter yet?’ Edition

I hate this time of the year. There are no holidays to look forward to until Easter. I wonder how many people checked Google for the 2012 date.[1] I bet many office workers spent most of today trying to figure out how the hell they were going to get through the next 3 months without burning a lot of vacation time. Me? I chose to take it easy. I did some tasks I needed to get done and then I began to prepare for the year ahead. I archived files and generally cleaned up my electronic system. Tomorrow I will try to get rid of the stack of paper I still have on my desk from when things were crazy busy. I have a major report to finish in the next couple of weeks. Then I have another huge report and grant application due by April 1. All before Easter you will note.

I had 2 ‘great’ conversations with my mother tonight. Here it is:

Conversation #1

Mom: You and Deb really hurt our little feelings when you were here.[2]

Me: Oh, what did we do.

Mom: You didn’t say how nice the house looked. Your sister worked really hard on it.

Me: Mother, why are you inventing things to have hurt feelings over? I distinctly remember saying how nice the house looked.

Conversation #2

My mother was discussing my sister’s temper tantrum yesterday when she put away the Christmas decorations. The way my mother tells it, my sister was stomping around the house and throwing the decorations away. My mother was very upset and I could hear my sister yelling and screaming when I called yesterday.[3]

Mom: Your sister says that she put things away neatly.

Me: That is good.

Mom: I don’t believe it though. I heard her throwing stuff around. Some of it is really old and sentimental. She is lucky I didn’t have the strength to go down their and cuff her upside the head and tell her to be more careful.

Me: That was probably a good thing because she probably would have cuffed you back.

Mom: No she wouldn’t have. Well maybe she would…Anyways, I would have hit her back.

All of the dogs are good. The cat is continuing to improve. She has found her litter box and is using it! She has re-discovered the other side of the house. Deb has finally foiled in her attempt to get through the gate and take out the other cat upstairs. She is not acting as desperate as she was so we think her thyroid is more under control now. She still has cancer but things are much better!


[1] For the record, April 6 is Good Friday.

[2] She was using her little ‘child-like’ voice.

[3] Why the hell she spent time with mother after just losing her dog.